Update : 25 Sept 2012
Last weekend we caught the Max tram train into Portland city centre. We left the train at the convention center stop and walked down past the small shed where the heritage cars were all still in bed (after all it was now weekend), hoping to catch a car on the new line down to the place where the opening ceremony was to be held, at the science museum (OMSI). Not seeing any cars, I re-read the invitation from our management, and realized the first car was not until 11.00, an hour after the official opening ceremony of the new “CL” line. After talking with some other people hanging around the place it was decided that the number 6 bus would take us there.
As we walked down to the street corner looking for the stop we spotted a no. 6 approaching and just caught it. The driver agreed he was going to OMSI and after crossing the river a couple of times the bus finally seemed to be heading to about the right place. The bus stopped on top of a bridge and the driver said get off here, down the steps to the street and down the road.
It looked like we were in an industrial jungle with high freeway bridges all over the place and a few old buildings here and there, but we persevered and finally spotted an OMSI sign on what looked like an abandoned substation.
Finally I spotted some tents in the distance and decided it must be the place. It was now almost 10.30 so we hurried along the road and a large crowd of people came into view and at last we spotted the wires and big metal fence and two cars waiting at the end of the track.
We watched the end of speeches, applause and we followed the crowd like the pied piper of Hamlin, down another road and ended up at a pedestrian crossing across to the terminjus. Here we were jostling with politicians and many others including TV cameras, and also my boss (who showed up in one of my photos), and eventually there were so many people we could not see the actual ribbon cutting, but suddenly a lot of people appeared on the first car, which was our prototype no. 15, so we decided it was over. Just then we heard a train whistle and saw a plume of steam in the distance and realised it came from a Southern Pacific “Big Boy” 4-8-4 over at a brand new locomotive shed. The Oregon Heritage Railway Society was holding its first open day on the same day as the opening of the “CL” route.
Due to the extreme crowds around the tram terminus we decide to investigate the steam affair with three steam locos and about three diesels. It was a nice shed and interesting locos, with free lemonade and cookies, but we were there for opening day, so we trotted off back to the terminus and squeezed on to one of the Skoda cars. We rode on it for about six stops, brand new track and very smooth, but I really wanted to ride on no. 15. As usual the driver had his cab door open and when I told him I was looking for one of my cars he informed me it was about a block away going in the opposite direction. At one point the north and southbound tracks cross each other at right angles and suddenly I saw 15 crossing our track in the distance. I decided to bail out and asked the driver to hold on while I extricated poor Pat from her seat halfway down the car. We could not seem to find a way to get down to where 15 was so going so I agreed to go to a little park with her to look at the various stalls set up to publicize trade in the area of the new route, free food, band playing etc.
After a while I was getting hungry since there was no free food to suit my taste so we crossed the road back to the stop where we got off the first car. After a long wait due to no fixed schedule and thousands of passengers I eventually spotted a pantograph in the distance I finally spotted the outline of something with a pantograph, and it was red. (Each Portland car is a different colour, ours is red at one end blue at the other). It turned out it was no. 15, so we had a long ride on it back toward the town centre, uneventful apart for a close call with an illegally parked Toyota and a few problems with the wheelchair ramp.
Finally we got off, walked around the Saturday market and caught the Max tram-train back home.
A lot of riding for a $2 ticket again!
Back at work on Monday we took the first production car back out on the test track and I had a couple of short rides on battery power to measure the current to make sure we had chosen the right circuit breaker. The next jobs were crawling under the next car in the line to make measurements for some of the electrical equipment not yet installed.
I also talk with the folks from Siemens every day as they continue to check out all the various systems, this week it is doors, cab controls and software tasks going on.
The car under test has switches and wires hanging everywhere, well scuffed cardboard all over the floor, a table and chairs and computers inside, things tied up with string and tape, but it works well and has immaculate paintwork. Oh, and it has all the windows in it.
|Ribbon cutting throng|
|MAX tram train|
|First service car|
|Prototype in service|
|Car No 3|